January, 22 2003 19:58
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The background

The background comes to remind us of the barbed wire fence and the miradors, manned by SS-staff with machineguns. By my seventh birthday, we were liberated and I had already witnessed, how, in a single day, hundreds of people could die in front of my eyes! Since we were in a concentration camp, and not in an extermination camp, I have no number tattood on my arm. When the second world-war started for us, (the Germans invaded Holland, Belgium and France in May 1940), I was not yet two years old. It was a very hard time for a little Jewish boy, even more than for others. My fifth birthday was skipped, because we were already in a camp. A year later, my mother announced, that next week would be my birthday. So I said: "Great, I'll be five years old now!" And she: "No, you'll be six!" So she made me an omelette, as a birthday-present. Okay, there were no eggs in it, but some flour there was and I suppose, she had some salt and a bit of oil.
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The Heavenly Providence

The Heavenly Providence provided for us, to stay alive, unlike all my aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews, some with families. Since my parents were both the youngest of their families, their eldest siblings had already grandchildren. None survived.
My eldest sister was born in Palestine (now Israel). This fact provided her with a British birth certificate. When she was two months old, the family returned to Amsterdam, for unknown reasons. There they had to be content with an apartment, high up in a back alley. During the war, when the Gestapo (Geheime Staats Polizei = secret state police) were hunting for Jews, they would not venture into the dark alley at night. It would have cost them a cut throat. The resistance fighters saw to it, that the street-light was not working, so that they had an escape route. Thus we stayed out of their hands, though we were not in hiding. In May 1943 we were arrested during a general raid, meant to make Amsterdam "Judenrein" (cleansed of Jews). While we were kept in a transit camp at Westerbork, the Germans decided, that they needed British nationals, to exchange against german P.O.W.'s, held by the British. Therefor they constructed a new Aufenthalts Lager (detention camp) at Bergen-Belsen. We were on the list of the first transport. Until then we were kept, for eight months, in the transit camp. Had we lived in a more normal apartment, we would certainly have been caught earlier. Had we been caught at an earlier date, we would have been sent, like the rest of the family, to Auschwitz or Sobibor, two extermination camps. Had my sister been born in Amsterdam, like all of us, we would have ended up on a different list. The Heavenly Providence had arranged everything, years ahead, so that our little family would stay, if not safe and sound, at least remain alive!
The camp at Bergen-Belsen became renowned, as the most beastly camp. Though there were no mass killings, the hard labor, starvation rations and lack of sanitary facilities, coupled with complete absence of medication, took their toll with staggering fatalities. During the final months of the war, from february till april 1945, the toll was 50.000 dead from hunger and disease. I escaped alive by just a hair's-breadth.
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   kohlrabi2 This picture is meant to convey the following account: a few years ago, I met my sister and asked her something, that bothered me: "I remember, when we left the camp, we had to wait before the gate quite a long time. At our right there was a mound of kohlrabi. But
   this is impossible! We hadn't seen food for days and certainly a mound of kohlrabi would not be left there for a minute!" She answered in a tone full of meaning: "These were not kohlrabi!"
   This picture is an impres- sionist view of the seider (Passover night ceremony), that my father improvised shortly before we left the camp. A little stool was our table, my brother provided, in a miraculous way, some candle stumps for light and by some miracle we had succeeded in baking three seider3
   little matzos.
My father had his little Haggada (text for the ceremony). All the people in the barrack listened in silence from their bunks and those who had the strength, came to sit on the bunks around. At the end, some found the courage to join my father in a dan- ce: "Leshono habo biYerusholayim (next year in Jerusalem)!".
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Exodus from Bergen-Belsen

Ten days later, on Saturday April 7, 1945, we were ordered to join a transport to evacuate the camp. This caused the following dialogue:
Mother: "We are on the list, but we are not going!"
Father: "Yes, you are going with the kids!"
Mother: "We are not going! You are not on the list!"
Father: "Yes, you are yes going!"
Mother: "We are going nowhere without you!"
Father: "That's what I'm saying!"
Mother: "What do you mean?"
Father: "I'm coming along, too!"
Though many inmates had the same idea as my father, as they had heard that we would get food on the train, the number of people boarding, was far below the number on the list. Many people were too weak to get up.
(Next day, Sunday, another transport was taken to the station by trucks, as the people could not walk the distance. These poor devils were even worse off than we. There were even more casualties on that train. They were in a worse state of health and were longer on the train without food. In the end, they were left at Troebits with the Russians, who gave them no food, nor treatment.)

We had to walk the 10-20 (?) miles to the station in Celle, which was just a loading ramp. (Actually it was 4 km, but it took hours! I think, that Celle's main station was farther away and bigger, but this was all that we saw.) We had to wait behind the campgate for a long time. The sight there was too much for a six year old, who had succeeded during the long winter-months to withdraw into himself, so that he could survive in a dream-world, where the atrocities, that his eyes saw, did not exist. So the heap of bodies, with the skulls neatly pointing towards him, became "kohlrabi". Then we started the long trek. A grim joke was well known to all camp-inmates. "There is one way into the camp: thru the barrier. But you can leave it by two ways: the barrier or the smokestack!" When we passed the main barrier at the camp entrance, my father congratulated us: "Mazaltov! We made it!" My father had foreseen, that we could carry just the strict necessary. Many people came loaded with all their possessions! Soon they started unburdening themselves, because they had no strength to carry bundles and cases. A few rows in front, someone collapsed. My father warned me: "Don't turn around! Don't look back!" I did not know what he meant, but followed his advice. The German guard accompanying us at my right stopped and waited until we had passed on. Then a report and the soldier came back to take up his position, putting his pistol back into its holster. Forget!  You haven't seen anything! Forget it for fifty years! We made it to the ramp, the train was there, but we were not allowed to board it. At one hour after midnight, we were told to board it. All scurried for the cars and in the crush, my little sister lost a shoe. Next morning she had to go out to relieve herself and there the shoe was still waiting for her in front of the door.
(to be continued)

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Hillersleben 1945

Here comes the story of my stay in the hospital in Hillersleben. The liberation was in the train on April 13, 1945 near the station Farsleben 16 km. from Magdeburg by the 9th US. Army, after the Germans had abandoned the train. We were taken to Hillersleben, which is too small, to appear on a map. First, we were housed in some huge office building. Since I was too weak to look after myself, Binyomin was appointed to be my bodyguard and he promised to hold on to me at all cost. Once we were coming from the park and had to cross a ditch on a narrow bridge, just a board. Not only was my balance impaired. I was actually only half-conscious and tumbled into the ditch. Binyomin, who would not release my hand, went down with me and there we were, both lying unconscious in the ditch. When my parents saw, that we did not return, they alerted the authorities and then the U.S. Army was engaged looking for two little boys. In the end we were traced and taken to hospital, where I was kept for more than a week, most of the time in a coma, but I made it! For more about that, please click HERE!
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Musical Education

Noone ever bothered, to acquaint me with music, so I got interested in it only, when I was twenty!   I started with Tchaikovsky's 5th and continued with Beethoven. Later, I bought a second-hand record of Schubert's 9th by the NBC with Arturo Toscanini! And Maria Callas in the Scala, singing Cav and Pag.
It took me some time to get to Bruckner, Chopin and Liszt.
Schubert got my full attention only, once I tried to sing his Lieder (Heidenröslein, der Wanderer). I sang also Faust (Gounod), Toreador song from Carmen (Bizet), "Madamina!" (Leporello's Air) from Don Giovanni (Mozart) and others, but .... ran out of funds! Some people make money from singing, but I never got that far!
How about the Baroque period?
How do you like:
  1. Haydn's symphony #103 "The Drumroll"
  2. Bach's cantate #140 "Wachet auf ruft uns die Stimme"
  3. Gabrieli's motet "In ecclesiis" (earlier)
  4. Schütz' lament "Fili mi, Absalon"
  5. Carissimi's lament "Plorate, omnes virgines" from "Jephte"
I think, they are all magnificent!
If you don't know them, try to listen to them. You'll do it again!
Today May 6th, 1998, I heard on the radio Brahms' first piano-concerto, played by Emil Gilels with the BSO, Eugen Jochum conducting. If you don't know, what I'm talking about, find it and listen to it! Today May 7th, 1998, I heard Beethoven's beautiful triple concerto. The pianist was Danny Barenboim, who conducted, with Perlman, violin, and I'm sorry, I forgot who played the cello. I own an ancient record, by the Berlin Philharmonic with Herbert von Karajan. Pianist: Sviatoslav Richter. Violin: David Oistrakh. Cello: Mstislav Rostropovitch. What can I say? No comment!

(to be continued)

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My Marital Status

Would it not be swell, to be able to tell you, that after all, I am a happy man, with a loving wife? Well, it's a dream, which might still come true, all assure me. At the age of 24, I married a most incompatible girl, who turned out to be, apart from her negative attitude towards me, a very capable housewife and a concientious mother of eight! But after 30 years of mutual hardship, we decided to cut our losses. Then five children were happily married. Two years afterwards I thought, that I had met a good replacement, but I tell you: "Buy only original parts and no second-hand." It cost me all my savings to get rid of her! Meanwhile two more children are married and only the baby is in the girls-school and comes over to spend the weekend with her mother. When she comes home, she drops in to say: "Hello!"
Since Nov 4, 1998 she is engaged.and since June, 9 1999 she's married!
Now I'm alone and that's not pleasant at all. What is worse: a bickering wife or nothing at all? Well, if you are interested in contacting me, click the E-mail  button and even if it's no match, it's nice to get mail!
(January, 15 2000) Now I know! I'm after a heart- attack and a stroke during open heart surgery!
A happy marriage is a safeguard for a long life! Next week (Jan, 25) I'm getting married, to a girl from Meridian, MS. (27/02/00) Happily married! Don't worri! Bi happi!

On Thursday, August 19. 1999 I went to the doctor, who referred me to the emergency ward. This, because I had funny feelings in my chest.
On Sunday, August 29 1999,after stabilising my blood-pressure.they catheterised. My state was critical. On Monday, August 30 1999, , Iwas put on the operating-table. Five bypasses were put into my heart! As soon as the surgeon started, I suffered a M.I. During the operation I suffered a CVA that could have crushed me there and then. Now maybe you'll say, that I have been neglecting my health.
True, between 1956 and 1972 I used to smoke a pack a day. But then I quit and started training viguorously. Karate (Shoto-Kan) brown belt. At the beach I was famous for my rope-skipping.
Seven years ago I stopped meat,coffee, sugar and white flour, ate full wheat bread, which I made myself with sour-dough, etc.
But I wasn't eating regularly and was undernourished.

That Monday evening I was scheduled to wake up. But due to the CVA, I woke up Thursday evening!
The first thing, I said and repeated several times, was: "The Almighty loves me!" On One of the first nights, that I could sleep alone, I woke up thirsty. There was a cup and a bottle of mineral water on the dresser. But I preferred a taste to it, which I added from another bottle. But that was shampoo! I spat out, whatever I could and used some biscuits to get rid of the taste. I was too embarrassed to call a nurse!

A few days later I moved to a rehabilitation dept. (Hadassa Hosp. Mt. Scopus) After a month I moved in with my daughter, who was taking care of me. I walk without a stick, but have problems with my sight.
(update of November, 14) Now, after ten weeks, I am going to move back home and try to manage again in normal life.

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Now, April 13, 1998, I have succeeded in uploading some pictures for you! Please visit my "Picture gallery" and continue from there to the fullsize pages. The images take their time, even with a fast modem, but I think, that you will appreciate them, and also the accompanying text I entered underneath.
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